Keep enjoying your cocoa butter. It sounds like your doctor means well but is misinformed. I can relate; at the risk of losing your confidence I will confess that I am constantly making flight corrections in my thinking, because what we learn from new studies always forces us to look at the data anew! Nature shows us the data, and we have to keep our minds open in order to see what she is trying to tell us.
I have some research articles below that your doctor can read to clarify the points that I make here, if they are open to such a thing.
First, cocoa butter contains no caffeine.
So relax and enjoy your cocoa butter. If it is not processed completely it might contain teensy weensy iddy bitty little traces of caffeine that are entirely negligible in concentration; and these would be too scant in concentration to affect you physiologically, unless you spent all day eating multiple vats of cocoa butter.
Cocoa butter is mostly saturated fat, but does not seem to be associated with increasing cholesterol or with increasing bad (LDL) cholesterol, from what we can tell, so far. Of course, any fat is highly caloric, and cocoa butter is no exception. Most of us should cut down on our total calorie intake, so if you eat a lot of "good fats" from plants, cut down on calories from other sources. A little bit of fat can't hurt if it is "good fat". Cocoa butter doesn't seem like a bad fat to have. And we all need some "good fat" triglycerides in our diet.
Of course, if you apply cocoa butter to your skin, it makes a great moisturizing agent (as most triglycerides will!) and it would be utterly absurd to think that any negligible, trace amounts of caffeine could be capable of penetrating your skin to become systemic.
Second, it isn’t at all clear whether caffeine is bad for pregnant women, but a few observational studies show that only a fraction of women drinking more than 3 cups of coffee daily (in other words, an obviously jittery amount of caffeine) might have a problem. So pregnant women should cut back on their caffeine consumption. I have never seen any study suggests that they should avoid caffeine completely.
This is the only precaution concerning caffeine that has really caught my attention, other than the obvious milder side effects like insomnia, nervousness, and an inordinately frequent longings to pee, assuming too much caffeine is consumed.
This precaution does not surprise me, since too much of anything is usually bad for you. This is the first rule you learn in toxicology. You can die from drinking too much water, but it is really hard to do, for example.
When taken in moderate amounts, caffeine is associated with health benefits: decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease, decreased risk of suicide, and fewer gall bladder problems. Plus, the drinks in which caffeine occurs (coffee, tea, and chocolate) also contain significant doses of antioxidant polyphenols and flavonoids, which can be obtained in decaffeinated versions of tea and coffee if you don’t care for how caffeine makes you feel.
Other studies involving animals can be suspect if tons of caffeine or any substance, indeed is used, because we know that the more you expose any animal to any particular substance, the more likely that substance will do harm. So you have to look at the doses in those studies and be more cautious about concluding a harmful effect, unless relatively small doses were used. For example, those famous studies of saccharin showing bladder cancer in rats used ridiculous megadoses of saccharin that no human would realistically take. (So I keep all my saccarin on the top shelf of my kitchen--where the rats can't get it.)
Cocoa beans are processed to provide two main products:
- cocoa solids, also called cocoa liquor (although it has no alcohol). This is what we use as cocoa powder. This part has all the flavor of chocolate and contains caffeine. However, cocoa solids contain much less caffeine than coffee.
- cocoa butter, which is the fat obtained from the bean. It is almost entirely triglycerides (what people call “fat”). Caffeine is not a triglyceride; it is in a different chemical class called a methylxanthine. There is no caffeine in cocoa butter. White chocolate, which is made from cocoa butter without the dark cocoa solids, therefore contains no caffeine, either.
To read more about cocoa constituents, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=6396642&query_hl=3&itool=pubmed_docsum
Here is a comprehensive review article with probably more information than most people would ever want to know on the disputed association between excess caffeine and still born pregnancies:
Nutr Rev. 1996 Jul;54(7):203-7.
The effect of caffeine on pregnancy outcome variables.
Hinds TS, West WL, Knight EM, Harland BF.
Center for Drug Abuse Research, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA.
The American public consumes a wide array of caffeinated products as coffee, tea, chocolate, cola beverages, and caffeine-containing medication. Therefore, it seems of value to inform both the scientific community and the consumer about the potential effects of excessive caffeine consumption, particularly by pregnant women. The results of this literature review suggest that heavy caffeine use (> or = 300 mg per day) during pregnancy is associated with small reductions in infant birth weight that may be especially detrimental to premature or low-birth-weight infants. Some researchers also document an increased risk of spontaneous abortion associated with caffeine consumption prior to and during pregnancy. However, overwhelming evidence indicates that caffeine is not a human teratogen, and that caffeine appears to have no effect on preterm labor and delivery. More research is needed before unambiguous statements about the effects of caffeine on pregnancy outcome variables can be made.